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Thread: Spreading evil

  1. #1
    Devin Jordan

    Spreading evil

    in every good fantasy novel, there is some form of evil that threatens to take over the world or some incredibly important part of it. The only thing that makes that area different for each book is just how it's spread. But the only problem is, I don't know how to spread it for my book. If it helps, the main source of the evil comes from the kingdom of the land and the king is running it all. Of course, being the king, he already has alot of power, but how should I make it worse? And I want it to be alot worse. It needs to be terrible so that it seems like there is no possible way of getting out of it. That's what makes it interesting, right?

  2. #2
    Brian Libby

    Re: Spreading evil

    Please get a copy of Diana Wynne Jones's "The Tough Guide to Fantasyland". Read it all, but start with "Dark Lord" and "Evil."

    I think that many fantasy readers are fairly tired of the kind of black-and-white confrontation implied in your post, and that a more nuanced conflict than evil threatening to take over the world is coming into vogue.

    Of course, I may be wrong.

  3. #3
    Joe Zeff

    Re: Spreading evil

    There are two possibilities here for you: First, the king is a strong king, but not a good king. See England, in the time of King John. In those days, the King of England controlled so much of the military power that it was almost impossible for the nobility to oppose him, but John made so many enemies that they all got together and became strong enough to stand up to him for the first, and almost only time.

    Second, you can have a weak king, such as either Henry III (John's son) or Edward II. Henry wanted to rule England as his father had, but wasn't firm enough to stand his ground or get enough people to follow him. He'd agree to whatever he had to then go on doing what he wanted. Edward was just as weak, but tried to rule through personal "favorites," giving them too much authority and making so many enemies that he was finally deposed.

    Any of these situations can cause Evil to stalk the kingdom if you set it up right. If you like history, or want to learn more about these times, check out Thomas Costain's books on the Plantaget family, as they're where I found the above information.

  4. #4
    Devin Jordan

    Re: Spreading evil

    That all sounds very good, I know there is alot of 'evil' (on lower terms, that is) when it comes to actual kings in the past, but, i don't know if anyone has read Eragon by Christopher Paolini, I really like what he's done with his king. I'm not sure how to explain it. I wish I could do something like that (if you haven't read it, I'm pretty sure his website is alagaesia.com so if you want to find some information out about it go there) but I don't know how. Right now I have the absolutley pathetic idea of brainwash through imported goods. It really really sucks and I need something better. I've got your monsters (in books, Eragon has Urgals and Shades, Lotr has orcs, you know) Anything at all better than brainwash will be a good idea!!!

  5. #5
    Joe Zeff

    Re: Spreading evil

    What I was trying to show was how evil can spread under different types of bad kings, and giving some examples. I gave Costain as a source so that you could read up for yourself if any of them looked right for you. Another way evil can spread is if a king is a bad judge of character. Neither Grant nor Harding were evil, but they put corrupt men in charge of various departments and agencies, and their administrations became notorious for corruption. There are so many ways evil can spread, and they've probably all happened (Except, possibly, by magic.) If you look around history, you can find examples to use in making your own story more realistic and plausible.

  6. #6
    Ro Lefwyn

    Re: Spreading evil

    Sleight of hand. I can't tell you what to do. The antag motives though, closely correspond to our own. Don't have the antag be evil just for the sake of being evil, or you need evil in your story. What motivates us to be bad? I blurred the edges by introducing the villian and then the good guys slowly emerged not but ended up no better than he was. Then the heroes that served the good were stuck between a rock and hard place because now they fought a battle on two fronts.

    There's renegade evil that breaks from the main evil, and spreads in a subversive manner after the main threat has been conquered.

    Hysteria against evil that makes the good people act with good intentions but just creates more evil. Like Witchburnings for example.

    There's mindless evil that acts without motivations.

    There's neutral evil, good and evil teetering back and forth until the two are held firmly in balance.

    Conspiracy evil. The good negotiating with the evil for some good purpose and it gets out of hand.

    Evil introduced by means outside the causal story line.

    Prophecy evil where you battle to keep a prophesiesed evil from coming to pass.

    A series of coincidences brings evil into the equation. A windstorm uncovers a long forgotten talisman, the moonlight strikes it just right and Viola! its a catalyst for loosing evil.

    Inadverent evil. An innocent picks up the talisman and accidentally brings some nefarious force into play. An innocent is plunged into acting as an agent for evil.

    An antag doesn't even have to be evil. Just at crossed purposes with the protag. The risks and consequences are what matters not the evil itself. How will it affect the protag, the world, etc if the evil is allowed free rein?

    Oddly enough my antag's name is shockingly close to yours.


  7. #7
    Rose Irving

    Re: Spreading evil

    Personally, I find "evil" to be a lazy concept. It is used when people don't want to 1) EXPLAIN or 2) UNDERSTAND actual motives. And if you are writing fiction, even fantasy, shouldn't you want to know your characters better?

    Everything has a context--in history, in politics, and in a well-written fictitious world.

  8. #8
    Jeanne Gassman

    Re: Spreading evil

    I'm not sure it's so much about good vs. evil as it should be about what motivates your characters. What does your protagonist want? What does your antagonist (the king?) do to thwart that effort/desire? What does your antagonist truly desire? More power? Control of other kingdoms? The love of the protagonist's daughter? The magic stone that will allow him to control the minds of his subjects? Think hard about what your bad king wants and what he will do to get it. What will make the king cross over from being merely a weak or ineffective ruler to a truly dangerous despot? Evil in its most believable form arises from the corrupted desires of your anti-hero. Your antagonist can use evil methods to achieve his goals, but he needs to have a strong motivation to do so. In other words, don't use him to spread evil as simply a plot device. Hope this helps give you some more ideas.

  9. #9
    Jim Higgins

    Re: Spreading evil

    You could grant the king supernatural powers that only he, apparently, has access to. Then he could really get down and dirty without any human limits, at least until the hero discovers the source of the king's otherworldly powers and short circuits him. Just a thought.

  10. #10
    HenLit Writer

    Re: Spreading evil


    For more fun reading about the Plantagenets, try Alfred Dugan's THE DEVIL'S BROOD. I imagine it's long out-of-print and I seem to have mislaid my copy.


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